Y Pwyllgor Deddfwriaeth, Cyfiawnder a’r Cyfansoddiad
Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee27/02/2023
Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol
Committee Members in Attendance
|Alun Davies AS|
|Huw Irranca-Davies AS||Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor|
|James Evans AS|
|Peredur Owen Griffiths AS|
Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol
Senedd Officials in Attendance
|Gerallt Roberts||Ail Glerc|
|Kate Rabaiotti||Cynghorydd Cyfreithiol|
|P Gareth Williams||Clerc|
|Sarah Sargent||Ail Glerc|
Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.
The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.
Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor drwy gynhadledd fideo.
Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 13:32.
The committee met by video-conference.
The meeting began at 13:32.
Prynhawn da. Croeso, bawb.
Good afternoon. Welcome, everyone.
Welcome, everybody, to this afternoon's meeting of the Legislation, Justice and Constitution Committee. We're holding today's session in a virtual session, but, just to remind everybody, we are being broadcast live on Senedd.tv. The Record of Proceedings will be published as usual. Apart from procedural adaptations for holding this in a virtual format, all of the other Standing Order requirements remain in place. So, the normal reminders about mobile devices being switched to silent. We're operating through the mediums of Welsh and English today, and we have interpretation available. Our sound operators will control the mikes for us.
So, with that, and we have no apologies—a full turnout here today from the committee Members—we'll move straight on to item No. 2, which is instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Orders 21.2 or 21.3. The first of these is item 2.1, which is SL(6)321, the Education (Student Finance) (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Wales) Regulations 2023. It's a made negative resolution instrument. These regulations amend existing student support regulations to, amongst other things, increase the amounts of undergraduate and postgraduate support. The application of any increases in financial support under these regulations differs depending on numerous factors, such as course start date and whether you're a full- or part-time student. Our lawyers have identified one merits reporting point. Kate, over to you.
Thank you. The merits reporting point draws Members' attention to relevant paragraphs of the explanatory memorandum that set out the costs and benefits of making these regulations and, also, the implications of not making them.
Thank you very much, Kate. Colleagues, are we happy with that reporting point? We are. We'll agree those and move on to item 2.2, which is SL(6)322, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (Review of Maps) (Amendment) (Wales) Regulations 2023. These regulations amend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in relation to Wales. Section 10(2) of that Act prescribes the time periods within which Natural Resources Wales must conduct initial and subsequent reviews of maps issued by it in conclusive form under section 9 of the Act. These regulations extend the maximum interval between subsequent reviews following a first review, from 10 years after the previous review, to 15 years. And our lawyers have identified one technical and two merits reporting points. Again, over to you, Kate.
Thank you. The technical reporting point asks Welsh Government to explain why section 45(1) of the 2000 Act is cited in the preamble, and we're waiting for Welsh Government's response on that point. The first merits point notes the reasons provided in the explanatory memorandum for extending the review period, and then, finally, the second merits point notes that while no formal consultation was carried out, Welsh Government has engaged with Natural Resources Wales, who are the body directly affected by the amendment.
Thank you, Kate. Can I ask you, committee colleagues, are you happy with those reporting points? We are. Thank you very much.
It takes us on, then, to item 2.3. It's an affirmative resolution instrument, SL(6)323, the Non-Domestic Rating (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Wales) Regulations 2023, and we have a draft report in your packs. So, I invite Members to note that these regulations, which sought to reform the non-domestic rating appeals system in Wales, were withdrawn by the Welsh Government on Friday, so we await further developments. So, that's simply to note for colleagues at this point.
And then we go on to a composite negative resolution instrument under item 2.4, SL(6)324, the Education (Student Loans) (Repayment) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. We have a draft report in our packs, and a written statement by the Minister for Education and Welsh Language and the Welsh Government response. So, these regulations amend the principal regulations of 2009, which make provision for the repayment of income-contingent student loans in England and Wales. They make provision for a temporary reduction of the interest rate on undergraduate loans and in respect of postgraduate degree loans specified in the principal regulations. So, the interest rate is set at 6.9 per cent for the period beginning with 1 March 2023 and ending with 31 May 2023. After that date, the interest rate will revert to the original rate specified in the principal regulations. Our lawyers—our Senedd lawyers—have identified one technical and two merits reporting points. Kate, over to you.
Thank you. The technical reporting point is that these composite regulations have been made and laid in English only. The first merits point notes that there has been no formal consultation on the regulations, and, then, the second merits point welcomes Welsh Government's detailed explanation in the explanatory memorandum of why it was not necessary to carry out a regulatory impact assessment. However, Welsh Government is asked why it has not referred back to a previous regulatory impact assessment, carried out for the equivalent regulations in 2022, which appears to have been based on the same financial data. In response, Welsh Government says that because there is no requirement for a regulatory impact assessment for these regulations, it was also not necessary to refer back to the previous assessment.
Thank you, Kate. Could I ask for any comments from committee members or are you content with those reporting points? You are. We're all content with that. Thank you very much to our lawyers.
This takes us on then to item 3, which are instruments that raise issues to be reported to the Senedd under Standing Order 21.2 or 21.3 that we have previously considered. We have one item under this to look at, and it's item 3.1, referring to SL(6)312, the Government of Wales Act 2006 (Budget Motions and Designated Bodies) (Amendment) Order 2023, and within your papers you'll have a report, a letter from the Minister for Finance and Local Government, and a letter to the Minister for Finance and Local Government, which preceded that. We considered this instrument as a committee at our meeting on 30 January, and we laid our report the same day. So, I just invite Members to consider the correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in response to the two technical scrutiny points in our committee's report and our letter of 3 February. Is there anything that we need to add to this, Kate?
We've got no further comments. We wouldn't necessarily agree with Welsh Government's view, but they've set it out very clearly in the letter.
We don't always agree with Welsh Government on things; that's not unusual. That's what we're here for sometimes. Colleagues, are you happy to note that correspondence and the response? We are. Thank you very much.
This brings us on, then, to item 4, notifications and correspondence under the inter-institutional relations agreement. The first of these is item 4.1, correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in respect of the Finance: Interministerial Standing Committee meeting, which took place on 9 February in Edinburgh. In the Minister's letter, it's outlined what was discussed as well as linking to a communiqué that was published following the meeting. It also informs us that the next meeting will be in June, hosted by Welsh Government, and chaired by the Minister. I'll continue on, colleagues, if you're happy, and if there's anything you want to jump in on, just jump in on it as we go.
Item 4.2, we have a written statement and correspondence from the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd in respect of the Approved Country Lists (Animals and Animal Products) (Amendment) Regulations 2023. We have those relevant items within your pack, so I invite you to note the correspondence and that the Minister is giving consent to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to make those regulations, the purpose of which is to correct errors in the lists of animals and animal products, so that Switzerland and Iceland are legally approved to export to Great Britain. These regulations will be laid before the UK Parliament on 28 February 2023, and they're subject to the negative procedure and they will come into force on 21 March 2023.
This brings us on, then, to item 5, our papers to note. First of all, item 5.1, we have correspondence from the Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution in respect of correcting Welsh statutory instruments. Just to note for committee members, the Counsel General has clarified points that were raised in our letter to him on 6 February, including about correspondence sent to us on 26 January by the Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, and the Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Well-being. I don't know if anybody has any comments at this point, or we can save it for private session if need be.
So, we'll move on to item 5.2. We have correspondence from the Minister for Finance and Local Government in respect of the supplementary legislative consent memorandum on the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill. In that correspondence, the Minister thanks the committee for our report, published on 16 January, on the UK Infrastructure Bank Bill and responds to our concerns in the report relating to inter-governmental working.
Item 5.3, we have to note a written statement by the Counsel General in respect of the report on the implementation of Law Commission proposals. The eighth annual report on the Welsh Government's implementation of Law Commission proposals has been laid, covering the period of 15 February 2022 to 14 February 2023.
Then item 5.4—again, leap in if there's anything that you want to say on these, otherwise we'll note them and return to them in private. Item 5.4, we have correspondence from the Counsel General. He has sent a letter to certain Members of the House of Lords, a copy of which is attached to his letter to us, and it sets out amendments that might mitigate some of the 'very serious concerns' the Welsh Government has about the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.
We'll go on to item 5.5, where we have correspondence from the Minister for Economy in respect of our recent report, published on 27 January, on the Supplementary Legislative Consent Memoranda (Memoranda No. 3 and No. 4) in respect of the UK Government's Online Safety Bill.
And then, item 5.6. We have correspondence from an organisation called Families First in Education Wales in respect of home education and home schooling.
And then, item 5.7. We have correspondence from the Local Government and Housing Committee to the Business Committee in relation to the Supplementary Legislative Consent Memorandum (Memorandum No.5) for the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill, regarding times available for scrutiny. That concludes all items under section 5 to note.
bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42(vi).
that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(vi).
Cynigiwyd y cynnig.
So, we have proceeded quite rapidly, actually, to our standard motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public for the remainder of the meeting so that we can go into private session. Colleagues, are you happy to move into private session? We are. We'll go into private session, and we'll wait for our clerks to tell us we are in private. Thank you.
Derbyniwyd y cynnig.
Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 13:46.
The public part of the meeting ended at 13:46.